The Lookout

Homeless man with golden voice becomes 2011′s first viral superstar

The Lookout

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On a trip to the grocery store last month with his wife, Columbus Dispatch videographer Doral Chenoweth III ran across a bouffant-haired homeless man in a camouflage jacket holding a cardboard sign at an interstate offramp in Columbus, Ohio.

"I have a God-given gift of voice," the handwritten sign read. "I'm an ex-radio announcer who has fallen on hard times. Please! Any help will be greatfully appreciated."

Chenoweth conducted an impromptu interview with the man, Ted Williams, through the driver's window. Williams displayed his pipes -- honed by professional voice classes when he was younger, he said -- and copped to having battled drug and alcohol addictions throughout his life, though he said he's been clean for two years.

When Chenoweth returned to work Monday, he uploaded the video to the paper's website. Barely 48 hours later, the homeless man with the golden voice has gone from an anonymous panhandler, ignored by perhaps thousands of passers-by, to one of the most in-demand talents in the broadcast industry. The video has been viewed on YouTube millions of times, and job offers are rolling in from the NFL, the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, and various TV and radio stations.

Watch the video that caused the stir below:

The Cavaliers have offered Williams not only a job, but also a house near their arena. A producer for NFL Films is offering Williams a voiceover gig for its famed football documentaries. And the Dispatch said its offices have been inundated with phone calls from other potential employers.

Williams was interviewed by Columbus-based WNCI-FM on Wednesday morning, and DJs there said they too were fielding a slew of offers for Williams. A caller claiming to represent MTV expressed interest in having him guest-announce a new comedy show. Williams broke down into tears and thanked Chenoweth for changing his life, though he appeared unsure what he'll do with so many offers suddenly rolling in.

He also appeared on "The Early Show" (video courtesy of CBS News):

Perhaps more than anything, Ted Williams sounds like he needs a good agent.

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